The Very Last Things (and what comes after)

white flowers
Photo by Alena Koval on

Part Two: What Comes After

It’s early when the women gather. Honoring not just their savior or God, but their friend. The man they laughed with and cried with. Who washed their feet and who washed his. They’re probably, understandably, emotional. Holding one another up as they walk with their spices and love – for each other and their dead Messiah.

It’s women who preach the first Gospel message, to the male apostles who couldn’t believe it and thought the women were hysterical. Jesus was alive, supposedly. He destroyed death. Descended into the pits of hell to preach to the old guard, popped by to say hey to his friends, and then levitated into the heavenly plane in front of a crowd of thousands (You can say Jesus isn’t the Son of God, but can you really say he was lame?)

His last words still retained meanings, but they morphed into a far richer meaning with his death and resurrection, and how we should live while he did Jesus-in-heaven things.

Genesis 1:31/Ecclesiastes 8:15/Luke 23:43

Read the following verses in order before continuing. 

If you read part one, you might be a little confused about what to do if everything is crumbled around you. If God is distant and you feel unloved, unseen, or unfavorited by the God of the universe. And, as we’ve discussed, that is more than valid. One day, when our lives come to an end, we will be with Jesus in paradise. There will be no hurt or anger, no pain or confusion or distance from God.

But the story of God’s work doesn’t begin on Thursday and end on Friday.

This mini-series is called the very last things. To understand the significance of last things, we must first understand the very first*. If God created the world and regarded it good, there is some essence of God’s fingerprints around us everyday. I felt it last night sitting in my friends’ dinning room, drinking mimosas and chowing down on pork chops and pasta salad. My friend Olivia is made in the image of God, and when I see her that way, God doesn’t feel so far away. God’s breath is in the lungs of my friend Cara as she and I cheer for the Portland Thorns. God’s among the agnostic roommates that lie on the couch beneath the kitchen. God’s design is in the trees that we pose under to take Easter photos. God’s breath is in the wind that blows through the open window, clearing out the propane smell from my failures in the kitchen.

Jesus ascended all the way to heaven, leaving his best friends and mother in the dust looking up at him. He knew his absence wouldn’t be sunshine and rainbows for the people he loved, and who loved him in a very real way. Sometimes, I think it’s okay that God feels distant, because that first Easter Sunday, they watched as Jesus became distant. But what he left was a creation that sings his praises, and people who have descended from the same story, told by mouth to one another. Over bread and heartache. Over wine and celebration.

Clutch this messy, confusing, angry, beautiful, spectacular life with both hands until they bleed and God plucks you into paradise. Sit in the hurt for as long as you can if you must, and then, seek out those pieces of Eden, Earthly paradise that remain.

John 19:26-27

Read before continuing. 

The pain Jesus felt was real. The pain his family felt was real too. It is because of the perfect, selfless character of Jesus that in the midst of all his pain, he looks to his mother and values her suffering over his own. He looks at his disciple and values his suffering over his own.

What would it look like if we loved the people around us with that kind of intense, reckless love? It might very well put our own well-being at risk. It might very well cause us to abandon our preconceived notions of justice and fear, like Jesus does in Luke.

Luke 23:34

Read before continuing. 

Social media is a double edged sword. I came across two separate posts this week that I had very different reactions to.

I was devastated to hear the writer Rachel Held Evans is in a medically induced coma. Then, scrolling through a host of tweets praying for her recovery from progressive pastors and incredible writers, I came across a pastor who insisted that he was also praying for Rachel, but was praying for her repentance from her wicked ways instead of her health. Hundreds responded, some in favor, some in damnation. I’m guessing you can tell which side of that argument I fell on. But there’s a reason I haven’t linked it here.

Jesus was beaten, dragged a cross for miles on his back. killed as people cheered, and rose to life. He had every reason, and then some, to be bitter and angry, to pump his resurrected fists into the cheek of every crowd member, every solider, every politician and pharisee. He would have been justified in hate. But not only did he come back and not throw punches, before he even died, before they even did what he knew they were going to do, before they repented, before you and I repented, he asked for their forgiveness.

There’s another post I saw, this time on Facebook. This scene illustrates the love of Christ that supersedes what we do or do not do. I wonder what would happen if we as the Body of Christ spent more time eating with sinners than we did praying for their repentance. Jesus Christ forgave those who broke his body and we parse words on the internet over people we don’t even know, warning them of the impending judgement. What if God just got to love us instead? What if we got to live every single day as though God asks for our forgiveness before we even say we’re sorry?

That mindset is a resurrected one straight from Jesus’ mouth. Anything else operates on the assumption that Jesus’ life might not have been enough to cover us.

Concluding Remarks

Yes, this life is horrible and no, you’re not a bad Christian if this Easter Sunday you couldn’t bare to sit in a stale church singing Jesus-y hymns that feel fake and forced in your throat.

God is distant at times and if it hurts, that’s normal. When you can, take a peek around your neighborhood. Is there a tree you like, a building? Is there someone who loves you or makes you laugh? Is there a small refuge built just for you? All the earth is holy ground blessed and created by the Godhead. Jesus stared down death, crushing the Devil’s head in his holy (and nail holey) hands. Paradise is coming if you have the courage to hold on for it.

Jesus calls us to live a resurrected life that values the worth of the Other over the worth of ourselves. He gives us an identity to link into, making us all, gentile and Jew, faithless and faithful, family. He entrusts us to one another to care for one another in love and unending joy.

And if you learn nothing else today, learn this: God loves and God forgives. In the present tense, not waiting for you to choose Them. God is already madly, unwavering in love with you.

Love is what comes after the very last thing. Love.

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13


  • * I don’t actually believe the Genesis creation stories are to be read literally, which isn’t a subject I can get into here due to space restraints. But I felt it was necessary to at least say I don’t believe the Genesis creation stories are to be read literally but that doesn’t change the point I believe Genesis makes.
  • All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
  • The following articles were used as sources throughout this post


Bryce’s debut collection can be purchased here. 25% of the profits go to organizations like RAINN, 1in6, and End The Backlog. He writes short stories for free here.

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